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T cells enhance gold nanoparticle delivery to tumors in vivo

Laura C Kennedy1, Adham S Bear2, Joseph K Young3, Nastassja A Lewinski1, Jean Kim1, Aaron E Foster2* and Rebekah A Drezek13*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Bioengineering, Rice University, Houston, TX 77005, USA

2 Center for Cell and Gene Therapy, Baylor College of Medicine, The Methodist Hospital and Texas Children's Hospital, Houston, TX 77030, USA

3 Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Rice University, Houston, TX 77005, USA

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Nanoscale Research Letters 2011, 6:283  doi:10.1186/1556-276X-6-283

Published: 4 April 2011

Abstract

Gold nanoparticle-mediated photothermal therapy (PTT) has shown great potential for the treatment of cancer in mouse studies and is now being evaluated in clinical trials. For this therapy, gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) are injected intravenously and are allowed to accumulate within the tumor via the enhanced permeability and retention (EPR) effect. The tumor is then irradiated with a near infrared laser, whose energy is absorbed by the AuNPs and translated into heat. While reliance on the EPR effect for tumor targeting has proven adequate for vascularized tumors in small animal models, the efficiency and specificity of tumor delivery in vivo, particularly in tumors with poor blood supply, has proven challenging. In this study, we examine whether human T cells can be used as cellular delivery vehicles for AuNP transport into tumors. We first demonstrate that T cells can be efficiently loaded with 45 nm gold colloid nanoparticles without affecting viability or function (e.g. migration and cytokine production). Using a human tumor xenograft mouse model, we next demonstrate that AuNP-loaded T cells retain their capacity to migrate to tumor sites in vivo. In addition, the efficiency of AuNP delivery to tumors in vivo is increased by more than four-fold compared to injection of free PEGylated AuNPs and the use of the T cell delivery system also dramatically alters the overall nanoparticle biodistribution. Thus, the use of T cell chaperones for AuNP delivery could enhance the efficacy of nanoparticle-based therapies and imaging applications by increasing AuNP tumor accumulation.